Free SEO Tools
It’s hard to know exactly where to start when it comes to SEO and your blog. There’s lot of people out there that will promise to ‘fix’ your SEO or help guide you. I don’t know about you, but I get emails from people like this every day, both for my full-time job and also to do with my blog. I would hazard a guess that most of these are trying to make a quick buck and I wouldn’t necessarily trust what they tell you. I think there’s so much information out there about SEO that you are better tackling the basic yourself and only reaching out to an expert if you get really stuck.
If you are running a small business or a blog, keeping cost down is imperative and the more you can educate yourself on SEO and how to maximise the opportunity it affords you, the better in the long run. So I’ve put together 5 free SEO tools that you can use right now to help you better identify and act on the opportunity that SEO offers you.
Google offers this free of charge to every domain owner. If you are a bit old-school, you may know this as Webmaster Tools, but Google has re-branded this, to make it a bit less scary. They’ve also worked on the interface to make it more user-friendly for the average person, especially website owners who aren’t that techie. In Google Search Console, you can access a number of reports which will give you an overview of how people are accessing your site via SEO. Including keywords, landing pages, average positions etc.
I would say the most useful feature for a blogger starting their SEO journey is the performance section. Here you can look at your keyword (called queries), your landing pages and your mixture of device types. This can help you look at what you currently rank for and where there might be room for opportunity to improve you average position. You can also see trends over time. You toggle additional columns on and off by using the boxes at the top of the graphs.
This is a great free tool for planning out content topics. You can see the popularity of a search term or topic over time. The thing to remember with Google Trends is that the data is based on an index and it isn’t absolute values. So if the search term was most searched in May 2018 that would show as 100 on the graph, compared with other months. That 100 number doesn’t actually mean anything. It just means that this is when the search term is most popular. Google trends is most useful if you are looking to compare two or more terms. You can easily see whether one term is getting more popular over time and one is declining.
Ah-ha you may say, Moz isn’t a free tool. Well technically the full Moz account isn’t free, but there are some free features you can have access to without a paid subscription. And after all, some free SEO tools are better than nothing. The one tool that every blogger is using (or should be using) is the Link Explorer. This is where you get your domain authority (DA) stats from. It’s also really useful for looking at where your site is linked from. If you haven’t yet been into Moz, this is the first place I’d suggest starting. You’ll need to know your starting stats prior to trying to improve them.
Google’s keyword planner used to be a lot better than it was. They’ve limited the use of it by only allowing the big spenders to have access to full keyword data. Which I think is a shame. It used to be really good for researching keywords as it would give you seasonal trends and actual search volumes. If you aren’t running big paid search campaigns, you can still see basic info in here but Google gives you a range, rather than the actual data. That’s still pretty useful in my book as you can compare one keyword against the other and it gives you a bit of insight into which one has more search volume.
One of the best ways to look for topics and keywords to use in your blog posts is to look at Google Autosuggest. This isn’t a tool as such, just a list of suggestions at the bottom of search results. So start with the search that you’d like to know about and then scroll to the bottom of the results page and voila! You’ll see a list of searches that are related to what you’ve just searched. This is a ready made keyword or topic list. You can play around with your original search and see if you can get the perfect title for your blog post from this list of suggestions.
What other free SEO tools do you use? Were any of the above new to you? Have you got some additional tools that you’d like to share. Drop your thoughts in the comments below.